Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dimensions of the Shroud: Turin Shroud Encyclopedia

Turin Shroud Encyclopedia
© Stephen E. Jones

Dimensions of the Shroud

[Index] [Previous: Problems of the forgery theory] [Next: Locations of the Shroud]

Introduction. This entry is based on my old Encyclopedia's entry of the same name, recast in my new Encyclopedia format (see Index). As we saw in the previous entries, "Shroud of Turin and "Linen sheet," the Shroud's lineal dimensions are 437 cms long by 111 cms wide (~4.4 m x 1.1 m or ~14.3 x ~3.6 ft). But see my post of 08Apr20 that "the Shroud's two long sides [are] 441.5 and 434.5 cms (average 438 cms = 14 ft 4 in.) and the two short sides [are] 113.0 and 113.7 cms (average 113.35 cms = 3 ft 9 in.)."

Dimensions determined. Prior to 1998, the most commonly cited dimensions of the Shroud were 14 feet 3 inches long by 3 feet 7 inches wide (434.3 x 109.2 cms). In 1998 ancient textiles specialist Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg determined that the true dimensions of

[Right: Mechthild Flury Lemberg (L), Sister Maria Clara Antonini of the Poor Clare nuns (C) and Turin diocese's Don Giuseppe Ghiberti (R) preparing the Shroud for the 1998 exposition[1].]

the Shroud are "437 cm long by 111 cm wide"[2] (about 14 feet 4 inches by 3 feet 8 inches). This was after she, to prepare the Shroud for the 1998 exposition, removed the Shroud's blue satin protective hem which had been sewn onto the cloth by Princess Clotilde of Savoy in 1868.

The thickness of the cloth is about one third of a millimetre (0.343 mm), slightly thicker than shirt cloth, and its weight is approximately 2.45 kgs (about 5½ lbs).

[Right (click to enlarge): Shroud showing missing pieces at each end of the sidestrip[3].]

Missing pieces. There are two pieces missing at each end of the 8 cms (3½ inch) sidestrip (see right). The first is 14 x 8 cms (5½ by 3½ inches) at the front left feet end and the second is 36 x 8 cm (14 by 3½ inches) at the back left feet end. However, as can be seen [right] the missing pieces do not change the overall length or width of the Shroud.

Cubits. In August 1989, an expert in early Syriac, Ian Dickinson, from Canterbury, England, reflected on the Shroud's then commonly accepted measurements of 14 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 7 inches. They seemed odd to him by modern standards but he wondered what they would be if the Shroud was measured in 1st century AD Jerusalem, by the cubit[4].

There were various cubits in use in Jesus' time, including one for use in the Jerusalem Temple. There was also a cubit of the market place, known as the Assyrian cubit, which was the one most widely one used, being the international standard of that time for merchants of the Near East. This common cubit of commerce was carried along with the Assyrian language, Aramaic, which was the common language of trade and diplomacy from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea, and had become the language of the Jew (Jn 5:2; 19:13,17,20; 20:16), which Jesus spoke (Acts 26:14 NIV)[5].

Petrie & Oppert. During the 19th century the archaeological pioneer, Sir Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) and Assyriologist Julius Oppert (1825–1905), took many measurements of ancient buildings in Babylon

[Above: Page 67 of "Inductive Metrology: Or, The Recovery of Ancient Measures from the Monuments," by William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1877), showing the Assyrian cubit was 21.6 inches (~54.9 cms)[6].]

(which Assyria had annexed in the 9th century BC)[7]. Petrie and Oppert found the length of the Assyrian cubit to be almost 21.5 inches, since refined by other archaeologists to be 21.6 ±0.2 inches[8] (54.9 ±0.5 cms). In fact according to page 67 of Petrie's book above, he himself accepted 21.60 inches as the mean length of the Assyrian cubit.

The Shroud measures 8 by 2 Assyrian cubits. Dickinson found that this Assyrian cubit is what the Shroud conforms to, taking the lower limit of 21.4 inches[9] (54.4 cms):

 21.4 inches x 8=171.2 inches
 Shroud recorded length=171.0 inches
 21.4 inches x 2=42.8 inches
 Shroud recorded width=43.0 inches

Now 171.2 inches is 434.8 cms, and 43.0 inches is 109.2 cms, which are very close to the Shroud's 437 cms by 111 cms. Indeed, those latest, most accurate dimensions of the Shroud are even closer to the Assyrian cubit's middle value of 21.6 inches or 54.9 cms. Dividing 437 and 111 cms by 54.9 cms equals 8 (7.96) cubits and 2 (2.02) cubits, respectively!

[Above (click to enlarge): Shroud photo with 8 x 2 grid overlay showing (within the limitations of my Windows 7 software and artistic ability!) that the Shroud divides evenly into 8 squares, each 437/8 = ~54.6 cm (~21.5 in.) x 111/8 = ~55.5 cm (~21.8 in.). And as we shall see next, the length of each square, ~54.6 cm. or ~21.5 in., is only 0.3 cm. or 0.1 in. less than the standard Assyrian cubit of ~54.9 cm or ~21.6 in. And the width of each square is only ~0.6 cm. or ~0.2 in. more than that Assyrian cubit. But the width of the Shroud has probably been increased slightly more than 2 cubits by the cutting and rejoining of the sidestrip.]

Guralnick. Archaeologist Eleanor Guralnick (c.1930-2012) claimed that from measuring slabs and figures from ancient Assyrian capitals Khorsabad and Nineveh in Iraq, which were built during the reigns of Assyrian kings Sargon II (r. 721–705 BC), Sennacherib (r. 705 – 681 BC), and Ashurbanipal (r. 668–627 BC), she derived new standard lengths of three different cubits from the Late Assyrian period[10]. They were, the Standard Cubit (51.5 cms), a Big Cubit (56.6 cms), and a "Cubit of the King" (55 cms)[11]. Despite Guralnick's standard cubits having been derived from a smaller sample set than Oppert/Petries', what Guralnick called the "Cubit of the King" (55 cms) appears to be Oppert/Petrie's "Assyrian Cubit" (54.9 cms), as highlighted in the table below.

[Above: Comparison of Oppert/Petrie's and Guralnick's three Assyrian cubits in relation to the dimensions of the Shroud of Turin. As can be seen, Guralnick's "Cubit of the King" (55 cms) is very close to Oppert/Petrie's "Assyrian Cubit" (54.9 cms), and the 437 cms long by 111 cms wide dimensions of the Shroud equal 8 by 2 of those cubits of Guralnick and Oppert/Petrie.].

Four-doubled (Gk. tetradiplon). Moreover, as Ian Wilson has pointed out, "Such conformity to an exact 8 by 2 Jewish cubits ... correlates perfectly with the `doubled in four' [Greek tetradiplon] arrangement by which we hypothesized the shroud to have been once folded and mounted as the `holy face' of Edessa [see below], for the exposed facial area of this latter would have been an exact 1 by 2 Jewish cubits"[12].

[Above (click to enlarge): Tetradiplon and the Shroud of Turin illustrated: The full-length Shroud of Turin (1), is doubled four times (2 through 5), resulting in Jesus' face within a rectangle, in landscape aspect (5), exactly as depicted in the earliest copies of the Image of Edessa, the 11th century Sakli church, Turkey (6) and the 10th century icon of King Abgar V of Edessa holding the Image of Edessa, St. Catherine's monastery, Sinai (7).[13].]

Problems of the forgery theory §1 The Bible mentions cubits (Gn 6:16; Ex 25:10; Mt 6:27, etc) but does not say how long they were. So it is highly unlikely that a medieval forger would even know about the Assyrian standard cubit (as it was discovered by Petrie and Oppert in the 19th century), let alone how long it was. And even if the hypothetical forger did know about the Assyrian standard cubit and even how long it was, it is even more unlikely that he would bother obtaining a first century Syrian or Palestinian fine linen sheet of those dimensions, when his contemporaries would not appreciate his diligence, and they would be satisfied with far less. And that is assuming that a medieval forger could obtain an 8 by 2 cubit first-century Syrian-Palestinian fine linen sheet, of which there are no other surviving examples, let alone one with the Shroud's three-to-one herringbone twill weave. I will add this to problem of the forgery theory §1.

Conclusion. So together with the image of the AD 29-32 Pontius Pilate lepton over the right eye of the Man on the Shroud; and the stiching and selvedge found only at the first-century Jewish fortress of Masada, this 8 by 2 Assyrian cubits dimensions of the Shroud are three separate and independent items of evidence that the Shroud of Turin is first-century and therefore authentic!

1. Photo originally in Brkic, B., 2010, "Hitler had designs on the Shroud of Turin; Indiana Jones fans are not surprised," Daily Maverick, 8 April. [return]
2. Wilson, I., 2000a, "`The Turin Shroud - past, present and future', Turin, 2-5 March, 2000 - probably the best-ever Shroud Symposium," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 51, June. [return]
3. Shroud Scope, "Durante 2002, Horizontal" (rotated vertical). [return]
4. Dickinson, I., 1990, "The Shroud and the Cubit Measure," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, Issue 24, January, pp.8-11, p.8. [return]
5. Ibid. [return]
6. Petrie, W.M.F., 1877, "Inductive Metrology: Or, The Recovery of Ancient Measures from the Monuments," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, Reprinted, 2013. Google books. [return]
7. Dickinson, 1990, p.10. [return]
8. Ibid. [return]
9. Ibid. [return
10. Guralnick, E., 1996, "Sargonid Sculpture and the Late Assyrian Cubit," Iraq, Vol. 58, pp.89-103, p.89. [return]
11. Ibid. [return]
12. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.181. [return]
13. Jones, S.E., 2012, "Tetradiplon and the Shroud of Turin," The Shroud of Turin blog, September 15. [return]

• Cassanelli, A., 2002, "The Holy Shroud," Williams, B., transl., Gracewing: Leominster UK, p.15.
• Currer-Briggs, N., 1995, "Shroud Mafia: The Creation of a Relic?," Book Guild: Sussex UK, p.11.
• Iannone, J.C., 1998, "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence," St Pauls: Staten Island NY, pp.1-2.
• Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.161.
• Schwalbe, L.A. & Rogers, R.N., 1982, "Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud of Turin: Summary of the 1978 Investigation," Reprinted from Analytica Chimica Acta, Vol. 135, No. 1, 1982, pp.3-49, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co: Amsterdam, 1982, p.43.
• Whiting, B., 2006, "The Shroud Story," Harbour Publishing: Strathfield NSW, Australia, p.177.
• Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, pp.18, 68.
• Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.21.
• Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, pp.112-113.
• Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, pp.112-113.
• Wilson, I., 1990, "Recent Publications," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 26, September/October, pp.14-16.
• Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, pp.141-142, 181.
• Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, , pp.59-60, 64, 67, 69, 152.
• Wilson, I., 2000b, "Recent Publications," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 51, June.
• Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, pp.74-75, 140-141.

Posted 4 February 2015. Updated 5 October 2023.


Stephen E. Jones said...

A few days ago "Anonymous" submitted a comment, quoting favourably something that Colin Berry had written.

But Colin Berry, aka Sciencebod, is permanently banned from commenting on this blog (the only person who has been) because of his persistent breaching of my stated policies (see below), despite my repeated warnings, mostly for "offensive" comments.

I assume the anonymous comment was by Berry himself, especially considering it had an offensive component, which Berry seems unable to restrain, and so is his `trademark'.

However, in the unlikely event the comment was not by Colin Berry, but by someone posting Berry's words and arguments, then that is banned also, since clearly it would be a way of Berry circumventing his banishment from commenting on my blog.

The comment by Berry, or on his behalf, was that blood chemist Alan Adler was wrong that bilirubin was responsible for the permanently red colour of Shroud blood, because of bilirubin's instability.

But apart from Berry's misunderstanding of Adler's argument (due to Berry's evident ignorance of Shroud literature), Adler's explanation was more complex than that the red colour of Shroud blood is simply bilirubin:

"Furthermore, Alan Adler tumbled upon one very important explanation for why, as has been agreed by everyone, the `blood' looks too red. A particular oddity that he discovered of the Shroud `blood's' bile pigments was that these seemed to contain what he called `an extraordinarily high' level of the pigment bilirubin, giving rise to the question why this should be so. As he explained: `... a torture, scourging and crucifixion leading to shock - that would produce a tremendous hemolysis [break-up of red blood corpuscles-IW]. In less than 30 seconds the haemolyzed haemoglobin will run through the liver, building up a very high bilirubin. If that blood then clots the exudate forms, and all the intact cells with haemoglobin stay behind, only the haemolyzed goes out along with the serum albumin which bind the bilirubin. So what one ends up with on the cloth is an exudate which has an enhanced bilirubin index with respect to the haemolyzed haemoglobin. You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methaemoglobin in its para-hemic form, which is an orangey-brown, and you get blood which has a red colour.'" (Wilson, I., 1998"The Blood and the Shroud," p.89).

Note that Adler's tests did find "an extraordinarily high" level of bilirubin in Shroud blood.


Stephen E. Jones said...


See also Adler's paper "Chemical and Physical Characteristics of the Blood Stains," on page 135 of his "The Orphaned Manuscript," which I will eventually scan and it will be placed online (probably early to mid this year) by Barrie Schwortz, in his Shroud Spectrum International archive.

There is another explanations of the permanent reddish colour of Shroud blood, "the Saponaria [soapwort] treatment of the cloth":

"Studies by Adler have indicated that the red color seen microscopically is consistent with someone who was the victim of severe trauma, due to the breakdown products of red blood cells, namely bilirubin. However, another explanation for the red color may be due to Saponaria treatment of the cloth." (Zugibe, F.T., 2005, "The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry," p.177).

Of which there is experimental evidence by STURP:

"It is worth noting that, if the cloth was washed using soapwort, it might also help explain the reddish colour of the bloodstains, since Saponaria solutions are haemolytic, i.e. they break down red blood cells and release the haemoglobin. Apparently, this was tested before the STURP team went to Turin by applying blood to linen washed with soapwort, and twenty-five years later this blood was still red, whereas control samples on ordinary linen had turned black. This is an alternative explanation to that proposed by Adler, but it does not necessarily invalidate his conclusion that the blood belonged to a badly injured person." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign," p.111).

Berry claims to be speaking for science, but since when is it scientific to:

1. Depend on personal abuse to make up for the weakness of one's arguments?

2. Fail to research thoroughly the literature of the hypothesis that one is attempting to refute?

3. Ignore the mountain of other evidence in favour of the overall theory one is trying to refute, with a single "molehill" item of apparently contrary evidence?

Science does not throw out a theory that is backed by a large number of different lines of evidence, because of one claimed problem. Rather what science does is try to reconcile the single problem with the large body of evidence for the theory.

Berry's approach is the very antithesis of science!

Stephen E. Jones
MY POLICIES Comments are moderated. Those I consider off-topic, offensive or sub-standard will not appear. Except that comments under my latest post can be on any Shroud-related topic without being off-topic. I normally allow only one comment per individual under each one of my posts.

Stephen E. Jones said...

>See also Adler's paper "Chemical and Physical Characteristics of the Blood Stains," on page 135 of his "The Orphaned Manuscript," which I will eventually scan and it will be placed online (probably early to mid this year) by Barrie Schwortz, in his Shroud Spectrum International archive.

I have today scanned pages 60-61 of Adler's "The Orphaned Manuscript," which is part of an article of his, "The Origin and Nature of Blood on the Turin Shroud" (1986).

On page 61, Adler wrote (my emphasis):

"The next test we did was to take micro-spectrum photometry on the nonbirefringent red-coated fibrils from the Shroud. It was obvious that the spectrum it produced did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin, at least as it is given in the standard references, which is a solution spectrum of blood. But in a film of hemoglobin there is a confirmation change; it no longer remains in the `met' form but goes to the para-hemic form. It is known now that there is a certain species which will spontaneously go to the para-hemic form if there is not enough turn-over in the spleen and the liver to process the blood fast enough. We found a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of compounds — the so-called high-spin, high-iron porphyrins. So instead of being wrong, the spectrum peaks were in the right place. What we were seeing was the breakdown products of hemoglobin — bilirubin and biliverdin. And one began to make sense out of all this. There is AN EXTRAORDINARILY HIGH BILIRUBIN COUNT, almost as high as the methemoglobin. Now how does one account for such a high bilirubin in a person? One possibility is that the person had a severe malaria, but this does not seem very likely. But A TORTURE, SCOURGING AND CRUCIFIXION LEADING TO SHOCK — THAT WOULD PRODUCE A TREMENDOUS HEMOLYSIS. In less than 30 seconds, the hemolyzed hemoglobin will run through the liver, building up a very high bilirubin content in the blood. If that blood then clots, the exudate forms, and all the intact cells with hemoglobin stay behind, only the hemolyzed hemoglobin goes out along with THE SERUM ALBUMIN WHICH BINDS THE BILIRUBIN. So what one ends up with on the cloth is AN EXUDATE WHICH HAS AN ENHANCED BILIRUBIN INDEX with respect to the hemolyzed hemoglobin. You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methemoglobin in its para-hemic form which is an orangey-brown and YOU GET BLOOD WHICH HAS A RED COLOR.

In fact, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SIMULATE THIS SPECTRUM IN THE LABORATORY BY THE PROCESS DESCRIBED ABOVE. This very strongly suggests that the blood stains are of a man who was severely beaten. No one would have ever dreamed, when we first started doing the analysis, that THE CHEMISTRY WOULD PROVIDE CORROBORATING EVIDENCE to what the pathologists concluded long ago about the Shroud figure. The blood has no cells, is very low in potassium, and HAS THE RIGHT COLOUR AND COMPOSITION FOR THE BLOOD OF A MAN WHO WAS SEVERELY FLOGGED AND CRUCIFIED. This is entirely consistent with the forensic evidence."

Hopefully "The Orphaned Manuscript" will be online in May as part of Barrie Schwortz's next update, if I can finish scanning it by then. It is already online in Google Books, but there it is only an image, not savable as text.

Stephen E. Jones
Reader, if you like this my The Shroud of Turin blog, and you have a website, could you please consider adding a hyperlink to my blog on it? This would help increase its Google PageRank number and so enable those who are Google searching on "the Shroud of Turin" to more readily discover my blog. Thanks.